When it comes to music festivals, a lot can go wrong. In the past five years, I’ve been to festivals where porta-potties were overflowing with mountains of toilet paper and… unfortunate sights, stages were way too small for the crowd size, and the scheduling fails made it nearly impossible to enjoy all of my favorite acts. Needless to say, planning a massive music festival with world-class talent is no easy feat to pull off; especially within the confines of a major city.
For the past three years, we’ve partnered with festivals both large and small at CityNova, but there’s always something special about coming back to Bunbury. Maybe it’s the fact that we’ve watched it come so far since it’s inaugural year in 2012, maybe it just makes us proud of Cincinnati, but even if it’s just about that fuzzy feeling, you have to give credit where it’s due, and Bunbury deserves that credit. Even in the past three years, they’ve recruited Bassnectar, The Killers, Florence & The Machine, Muse, and a ton of others. No, this isn’t Lollapalooza’s past performers… this is Bunbury’s list.
This year, the festival organizers were thrown for a loop when Friday night headliners, Blink 182, canceled with no notice within a week of the festival’s start date. Things could have gone awry, but the festival showed its class by not only offering single-day Friday tickets full refunds, but by offering 3-day pass holders 15% off of next year’s festival. Plus Blink 182 has already signed up for next year’s festival as well! Which is perfect, because we definitely missed them in the lineup this year.
In all seriousness, though, I think it’s necessary to spell out exactly why Bunbury deserves a spot among the best urban music festivals in America…
Quite a few years ago, I paid over $100 just to see Incubus from the pit. Spoiler alert: The opening acts weren’t that great. If you got the early bird pricing from Bunbury, you could have managed your time well and seen Griz, Incubus, and Third Eye Blind from about ten feet away from the stage for right around $160… and that’s just for one day. You’d still get to see a ton of other top-quality artists the other two days as a bonus. Not to mention the beers were super affordable considering they could have charged much more. We appreciate you, Bunbury!
2. They Have Their Sh*t Together
As I mentioned early, I’ve seen some pretty nasty things happen when a festival doesn’t do their due diligence with restrooms. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, worse than being forced into the confines of a porta-potty that’s working on 3 days without a full cleaning in the hot summer sun. The restrooms were plentiful and cleaned nightly. This often-overlooked aspect of festivals deserves credit.
There’s an art to creating the ideal schedule from a lineup that’s packed with talent. Sure, it’s easy to fit the local bands into the early slots, but what’s not so easy is stretching out the talent over three days when you have such a diverse set of performers. Every year, however, it seems that Bunbury ensures that acts are spread out perfectly for demographics of all types. This year, older millennials should have been able to enjoy Blink 182, Incubus, and Jack White on separate days while younger millennials and generation x-ers could take in The Chainsmokers, Griz, and Post Malone on the same corresponding days. It’s the the little details that raise the bar, folks.
4. Local Connection
It goes without saying that every great music festival comes with copious amounts of drinking and eating. While it’s easy to recruit any national brand to come in and serve the goods, it takes a lot of time and effort to ensure that locals get the love, and they get plenty of it at Bunbury. From having a craft beer village that served nearly 20 local brews to hosting regional favorites like Mikey’s Late Night Slice for food, everywhere you turn, local businesses are getting the love they deserve within this festival, and there’s nothing we love more than seeing these kinds of partnerships. Local love is yet another reason Bunbury deserves all of the support in the world.
As we already said, there are a ton of reasons to love Bunbury, well beyond what we can sum up in an article, and we can’t wait to see how they continue to raise the bar for urban music festivals in the upcoming years. Thanks for having us, and thanks to the tons of friends we’ve made at the festival over the years we’ve covered! We can’t wait to see you again next year!